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Africa baring brunt of global terror

25 November 20150 comments
West African-based Islamic extremist group Boko Haram

West African-based Islamic extremist group Boko Haram

The news media has this month been dominated by the tragic attacks in Paris. But, perhaps surprisingly, it is not Europe – and not even Beirut – that is the epicentre of global terror attacks; and Islamic State is not the world’s deadliest terrorist group.

Instead, according to the newly published Global Terrorism Index, it is Africa that is baring the largest burden in terms of violent outrages.

And the West African-based Islamic extremist group Boko Haram is the worst terror group, according to the index.

Boko Haram is responsible for a spike in terror violence in Nigeria which has experienced the largest increase in terrorist deaths ever recorded by any country in 2014, up over 300 per cent since 2013.

That equates to 7,512 fatalities and of those, 6,644 have been directly attributed to Boko Haram.

Islamic State is the second deadliest group in the world, responsible for 6,073 – excluding the Paris attacks).

Meanwhile, in Mali at least 342 people have been killed in conflict this year alone.

Some 2.4 million Malians are currently affected by conflict waged for decades by Tuareg separatists and in more recent years by Islamist jihadi groups.

In northern Mali recently, rival Islamist factions have intensified the pace and severity of their attacks against civilians, while the separatists remain active in fighting government forces.

The Islamists’ attacks have spread this year to the centre of the country. Since June, this violence has even reached previously peaceful areas in the south near the borders with Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso.

In August this year, Mali experienced some of the worst violence since international forces pushed Islamist militants out of their northern strongholds in January 2013. The upsurge included a high-profile attack by al-Qaeda-linked Islamists on a popular hotel frequented by UN officials that left 13 people dead.

Most recently, on 20 November 2015, gunmen, suspected to be Islamist militants, took 170 people hostage at an upscale hotel in Bamako, the capital. At least three people are reported to have been killed during the siege.

And just last week a terror attack at a luxury Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako left at least 21 people dead, including two militants.

These latest attacks have renewed fears that the security situation will once again deteriorate and that more Malians will soon flee. Aid delivery to those most in need could also be affected.

Nearly 200,000 people are still displaced, either within Mali or in neighbouring countries.

Attacks by jihadis on communities and places where international aid workers live and work have contributed to a crisis in which an estimated 3.1 million people lack sufficient food and more than 410,000 need immediate humanitarian assistance.

In the north, where the security situation is particularly bad, rates of acute malnutrition among children under five now exceed the emergency threshold.

The Global Terrorism Index says that across the globe terrorism is up dramatically.

The report, now an annual publication from the Institute for Economics and Peace, found that terrorism-related deaths increased 80 per cent last year to an all-time high of 32,658.

The paper says that 78 per cent of all deaths and 57 per cent of all attacks occurred in just five countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria.

This follows a pattern; 92 per cent of attacks over the last 25 years occurred in countries where state-sponsored political violence is widespread, and 82 per cent in countries embroiled in conflict.

The percentage of terrorism-related deaths occurring in western countries over the last 15 years is, by contrast, small at just 2.6 per cent. Of those, only 20 per cent are attributable to Islamic extremists, with lone wolf attacks motivated by nationalism, right-wing extremism and other forms of supremacy accounting for the rest.

Gabrielle Chen
AMES Australia Staff Writer